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October 6, 2023

Federal grant will enable SVSU to train more social workers for rural and underserved communities

SVSU professor awarded $1.06 million Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Workforce grant

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With support from a two-year, $1.06 million federal grant, Saginaw Valley State University will prepare more master’s-level social workers to treat children, adolescents and young adults in rural communities in Michigan. The grant was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration under the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training – Children, Adolescents, and Young Adult Program for Professionals (BHWET-CAY). Catherine Macomber, SVSU professor of social work, applied for the grant and will serve as the project director.

The purpose of the grant is to expand access to mental health care for young people. SVSU will use the grant funds to support a new project, “YouthWISE: Youth Work in Social Work Education – Growing Behavioral Health in Rural Michigan for Children, Adolescents and Young Adults.”

Under this project, SVSU’s Master of Social Work program will increase the numbers, diversity and skill of MSW graduates employed in rural and underserved settings in the Great Lakes Bay Region as well as the northeast lower peninsula and thumb areas.

“I am very excited to receive this grant funding to support our goal to increase the number of social work practitioners trained to serve Michigan’s rural underserved populations, and to increase the diversity of the social work workforce in Michigan,” said Macomber. “This grant will also bring resources to our community partners, both current and future, to assist them in recruiting and retaining SVSU graduates who will come prepared to jump right into the workforce with an in-depth understanding of the needs of rural and underserved communities.”

YouthWISE will formalize and expand efforts to grow behavioral health services to rural and underserved areas in Michigan. Students in SVSU’s Department of Social Work and Youth Services have been completing field work in these communities since the MSW program was introduced in 2017. To accomplish this work, the project will:

  • Establish more training opportunities for MSW students in community-based settings serving children, adolescents and young adults, prioritizing settings in underserved and rural communities.
  • Increase the number of clinical supervisors for behavioral health professional trainees working with children, adolescents and young adults.
  • Enhancing training opportunities for new and existing SVSU faculty and clinical supervisors focused on the behavioral health needs of children, adolescents and young adults.
  • Help connect SVSU graduates with employment opportunities.

“This grant and the important work it will support reflects the vision and mission of our college by engaging our MSW students in experiential learning and preparing a diverse community of professionals,” said Marcia Mastracci Ditmyer, dean of SVSU’s College of Health & Human Service. “We are excited to lead this work and I am proud of Dr. Macomber and the social work program for their dedication to this project. I look forward to the great work these students will do, using their SVSU social work education to expand and improve behavioral health services throughout Michigan.”